MOVIES OF 2013
-Part 4, The Last –
Finally, the last of my 2013 reviews!
I had no idea we’d seen so many films in the theater until I started writing it down, and I actually had to break down my reviews into four parts. Yikes. Can you imagine how many movies we watched at home? We saw pretty much everything, so that’s a lot of movies!
This was a wonderful British film that passed almost completely under the radar. Bill Nighy (always a joy) is a father who reveals to his grown son that the men in their family have always been able to travel through time. The son learns it’s true, and from then on he uses the ability to shape his life and correct “mistakes”. Eventually he meets and falls in love with Rachel McAdams, and soon discovers that there are ramifications to using his ability too recklessly. But as romantic as the love story is, it’s really the story of a father and son. It’s absolutely beautiful, and funny (the dinner in the blind restaurant is just hilarious), and it’s no wonder – it’s from the same people who made “Love, Actually”. I loved “Love Actually”. So I loved this movie. I cried like a baby, but it was so worth it.
Four and a half out of five stars.
Thor: The Dark World
Loved the first “Thor” movie, so I knew I would enjoy this one. Tom Hiddleston as Loki makes the film, as far as I’m concerned. I still don’t see any chemistry between Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth, but Hemsworth is major eye candy. In fact, while watching the scene where Thor takes off his shirt, several women in the audience actually gasped. Gasped! That was a first. I didn’t gasp, but I did quietly moan. Michael was not amused.
Three and half out of five stars.
Great effects, but I found it hard to connect emotionally with any of the characters. The film felt very cold. Also, the war games evolved into something else, which I understand is part of the books, but I found it a little disturbing. I liked the young actor, Asa Butterfield, but I thought he was better in “Hugo”, which was a fantastic film. And although I respect Harrison Ford, I don’t particularly seek out his films, and I didn’t like him in this one. All in all, I wasn’t impressed.
Two stars out of five.
The Hunger Games – Catching Fire
I read the books, and – quite frankly – didn’t see what all the fuss was about. They weren’t written well, and the first two books were very spare. The story became more interesting by the second book, but the writing still wasn’t all that impressive. The third book was the best, but that wasn’t saying much. The science-fiction aspect got a little out there, and the Capital just didn’t make sense – especially the defense systems. (POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR FINAL MOVIES) A beam of light that melted people? A pit of grinding teeth that rips people to shreds? Not that I’m advocating violence, but what’s wrong with good old-fashioned bullets?
So, anyway, I wanted to see the movies to see if they were an improvement on the books, and I have to say that they were. The first movie was very well done, and fleshed out the story considerable. The second movie was okay, and I liked the idea of past winners of the Games being forced to fight again, but the illogic of the world began to make itself known. Killer monkeys and a lightning tree? Say what, now?
Two and a half stars out of five.
I have to admit that I wasn’t all that thrilled about seeing this movie. They kept saying it was based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story, “The Snow Queen”, but it didn’t look like “The Snow Queen” to me – it’s one of my favorite stories – but there was a lot of fuss being made of the music, so I agreed to go with Michael. And, well…it wasn’t that bad, and “Let It Go” is a kick-ass song…but I had a problem with Elsa transforming herself into a sexy woman in high heels while singing it. That “come hither” hair and makeup didn’t help, either. Talk about mixed signals…
And it’s not “The Snow Queen”! Do not be fooled! If you’re interested in seeing a wonderful film based on the actual story, see the 1957 Soviet animated film The Snow Queen . There are several versions, and most of them look kind of bad because the film’s been in the public domain for a long time, but be sure you see the English-dubbed version from 1959, with voices by Sandra Dee and Tommy Kirk. (Ignore the awkward prologue with Art Linkletter) The film is beautifully animated, even with the bad transfers. (The dark scenes are pretty dark. There’s a restored version in a collection of films that’s also out, but it’s been subtitled, which kind of destroys the charm of the music. But the night scenes are very visible.)
Disney Studios version – Three out of five stars.
Soyuzmultfilm Studios version – four and three-quarter stars out of five. (It loses a quarter star because of the terrible prints, but that’s not the movie’s fault.)
Twelve Years A Slave
A powerful film of a story that needed to be told. The performances were incredible, and all the Oscar nominations were deserved. I have to admit to having a soft spot for the film because Benedict Cumberbatch was in it – playing a good slave owner, as if there was such a thing– but his part is small and I didn’t get to see enough of him. And I have to admit to something – I wasn’t as moved emotionally as I guess I was supposed to be. It was powerful, and the end made me cry, but a movie about slavery that absolutely destroyed me was Amistad. I actually had to leave the auditorium at one point because I was so shaken…I ended up crying in the ladies’ room for a few minutes before being able to go back to my seat. (The scene in question was when the slave ship was forced to dump some of its “cargo” overboard…and watching those enslaved men and women being dragged down into the sea by their weighted chains was unbearable.)
But “12 Years a Slave” is a moving film that should be seen. It will make you angry and sad and ashamed, but it will affect you in some way. And it was obvious that the film was going to win Best Picture.
Four out of five stars.
The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug
Now we’re talkin’. Loved it. I had a few problems with some of it, but overall, I loved it. And, yes, mostly because of the dragon, Smaug, voiced by – wait for it – Benedict Cumberbatch! That baritone! He was born to voice an ancient, cruel and cunning dragon. And Bennie is going to actually be on screen in the next movie, playing the Necromancer. Oh, happy dance.
But I do have two problems with the movie. One, some of the action moved so fast that it was a blur – the escape/battle in the barrels was just too damn much, and when it was over, it was more “thank god” than “that was epic!” And, second – EVERYBODY PRONOUNCES THE DRAGON’S NAME WRONG! Good lord, people, how hard is it to say it the way they did in the movie? That’s obviously the way it’s meant to be said. It’s not “smog” or “smug” or “smoog”. The “au” is supposed to sound like the “ow” in ”howl”. S-M-O-W-G.
But I can’t wait for the next movie. We really get to see Smaug in action, and then there’ll be the Battle of Five Armies. That should be epic.
Four out of five.
Anchorman 2 – The Legend Continues
I was not a big fan of the first movie. I thought it was dumb, and this is no different. But it contains one of the most brilliant scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie – a huge gang fight near the end. It comes out of nowhere, and the gangs are all the different cable channels, and there’s more cameos than I think I’ve ever seen in one scene, and it’s hilarious! And now the movie has been re-released with entirely new jokes…I’m interested. Definitely.
Three out of five stars.
Saving Mr. Banks
I read a few of the “Mary Poppins” books when I was young. I wasn’t that big of a fan and stopped after two or three (I can’t remember which), but she was an interesting character, and quite different from the way she was portrayed in the Disney movie. I could understand why PL Travers fought so hard to keep the integrity of her character, and it was kind of sad to see how much she was Disney-fied. (Mary Poppins was not a nice person. She was vain and self-centered and opinionated and could be rather mean. The books also have little interludes with other characters, like babies having conversations with birds and the wind and I think a sunbeam.)
Anyway, I don’t know why Emma Thompson wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in this movie. She was amazing. I loved Colin Farrell, too, as her father in the flashback scenes. I wasn’t too impressed with Tom Hanks – he was much better in “Captain Phillips” – but Paul Giamatti is always great. The story was fascinating, and Michael and I now both want to learn more about PL Travers’ real life.
Three and a half out of five stars.
The Wolf of Wall Street
Holy crap, did Leonardo Di Caprio turn in a hell of a performance. He should do comedy more often. He totally earned that Oscar nom! So did Jonah Hill, who’s turning out to be a contender. Two Supporting Acting nominations, for a pratfall comedic actor? He’s on his way to an amazing career.
The movie was pretty good, too. I’m glad they presented it as a comedy, especially since the behavior and lifestyles of the characters was so horrible. Those people were not to be emulated. So what if they were richer than god? They were terrible people! They were obscene in their wealth and entitlements and they way they exploited people. And it was fascinating to watch. Good film.
Four of out five stars.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the rundown of the films Michael and I saw in the theaters in 2013. We also saw a lot of films at home – American Hustle, Dallas Buyers’ Club, Philomena, Blue Jasmine, August: Osage County, Grown Ups 2, Monsters University, Odd Thomas, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2, The Croods, The Conjuring, Epic, Bad Grandpa, Gangster Squad, The Way, Way Back, Knights of Baddassdom, Grudge Match, The Frozen Ground, Insidious: Chapter 2, Welcome to the Jungle, Jack the Giant Slayer, R.I.P.D., Escape From Planet Earth, Parker, Europa Report, I Give It a Year, The Big Wedding, Open Grave, Admission, CBGB, A Haunted House, Bad Milo, The Last Exorcism Part II, Jack Reacher…and the list goes on. Some of them were great, some of them were awful, and some of them were simply excruciating. (I’m looking at you, Bad Milo – I only lasted 10 minutes.)
Yeah, We love movies.
I can’t wait to see our list for 2014. We’re off to a good start.